“How much can a hamster eat before its belly explodes, Dad? Dad, how much can a hamster eat before his belly explodes?”
Sometimes you have to say the same thing a LOT before Dad really hears it, so when I have something important to say, I just say it like three times in a row before I even give him a chance to answer, and sometimes that works. If it doesn’t, then I have to get louder and hang on his arm like a monkey.
“Dad! I’m really serious—how much can a hamster eat before his belly explodes!”
“Huh? I don’t know.”
There's lots of things Dad doesn’t know.
Dad doesn’t know why God didn’t name the animals Himself. He doesn’t know what I should do for money after the tooth fairy stops coming, which could be soon, so I’ll have enough for the Dark Knight Batmobile Tumbler, complete with interior and engine detail.
He also doesn’t know that I actually like basketball more than football, but I keep that a secret because he buys me lots of football stuff, and then sometimes I trade it at school to Jimmy Drake for stuff he steals from his older brother’s room. Some of the stuff’s dumb, like posters of girls in bathing suits, but some of it’s cool, like guitar picks that he gets at concerts.
Last week Mom found one of those posters crammed behind my desk. She looked at me real crazy and hurled a glass against the wall and said she didn’t know what she’d done to deserve this. Then the baby started crying.
I looked for the glass on the carpet, but most of the pieces were invisible like the Invisible Man who has to wrap himself up in bandages like a mummy just so people won’t sit on him when he’s in a chair. He’s pretty cool, but I think Hulk Hogan could take him cause Hulk Hogan wears sunglasses all the time and they probably have some kinda special night vision in them that can see invisible people too.
Dad says he feels sorry for Hulk Hogan cause his wife took him to the cleaners. I don’t know why she needs to do that cause Hulk Hogan doesn’t really wear anything but his underpants, and even if she did, wouldn’t Hulk Hogan think that was nice of her?
Dad lives in the city—ever since he made friends with a lady at work who smelled good and listened to his old football stories. Mom didn’t like it. Dad said Mom never listened to anything he liked and hadn’t worn perfume in decades, so he was surprised she could identify it.
This weekend was my turn to bring Simpkin, the class hamster, home. Thirteen Oreos. It took thirteen Oreos to make his belly explode. I mean, I guess it exploded. He just stopped walking around and sniffing and laid down for good. No guts. No blood. I think he exploded on the inside and we just couldn’t see it.
When Mom saw Simpkin, she cried. She said this house strangled any life that dared enter it.
She cried so hard it made me cry. She picked up the phone and called Dad. She said she didn’t know who else to call. She handed the phone to me.
“Why did you kill that hamster, Son?”
Mom curled on my bed and pounded her fist into my pillow.
“Son, why’d you kill that hamster?”
Black watery lines ran down her cheeks.
“Boy, are you listening! Why’d you kill that hamster!”
Mom lifted her head. “Answer him, Russell,” she cried. But I forgot what I was supposed to talk about.
“Huh? What Dad?”
I thought he was going to yell louder, but his voice got quiet. I don’t remember it ever being that quiet. He told me stuff about how important life is and how I should be ashamed of myself for letting idle curiosity hurt one of God’s creatures. That made him hiccup. He said it was time to get our head into the game.
Mom stopped crying, and when I hung up the phone, she held me close, like she used to when I was little. I fell asleep in her arms, and when I woke up, we buried Simpkin and sat on the back porch and finished the rest of the Oreos with some milk.
I was scared to eat more than five or six.
I know thirteen Oreos will kill a hamster.
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